Council: Work with MDEQ, EPA on Pall Plume

Ann Arbor city staff have been directed to explore actions available to the city, including meeting with the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality and petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to help set cleanup criteria for the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane in Michigan.

Map by of Pall-Gelman 1,4-dioxane plume. Map by Washtenaw County. Black arrow added to indicate baseball field at West Park.

Map of Pall-Gelman 1,4-dioxane plume, by Washtenaw County. Black arrow added to indicate baseball field at West Park. The yellow region is the estimated plume area where the 1,4-dioxane concentration is greater than 1 ppb. That area encroaches well into the city of Ann Arbor and extends outside the well prohibition zone (red border).

The goal would be to improve the cleanup standard for 1,4-dioxane by at least a factor of 30. The direction, which was given at the council’s Sept. 3, 2013 meeting, includes exploring actions related to the Pall-Gelman plume as well as without site specific criteria for the Pall-Gelman plume.

The council passed a resolution that was slightly different than the one originally on the agenda. The council’s deliberations lasted more than 30 minutes and focused on a possible postponement to make the resolution stronger. The motion to postpone, however, failed on a 4-5 vote on the 11-member council. Voting against postponement were Margie Teall (Ward 4), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and mayor John Hieftje. Councilmembers Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) were absent. [.pdf of resolution as amended and approved] The resolution was sponsored by Briere, Warpehoski and Hieftje.

The history of Gelman Sciences, which caused the 1,4-dioxane contamination, goes back 40 years. The company was based in Scio Township and later acquired by Pall Corp. The MDEQ’s current 1,4-dioxane generic residential drinking water cleanup criterion was set at 85 parts per billion (ppb). But an EPA criterion set in 2010 was for 3.5 ppb.

The MDEQ was supposed to re-evaluate its own standards by December 2012, based on the EPA’s 2010 toxicological review. It missed that deadline, and according to the council’s resolution, is anticipated to miss a new deadline set for a year later in December 2013.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]